Accountants face child-care dilemma in tax season Most rely on mix of solutions

April 15, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

April 15: the day when public accountants in Carroll can see the end of long hours spent preparing forms for their clients' contributions to tax coffers.

But who has been taking care of their children?

For many, a mix of hired caretakers, shifted schedules and relatives help accountants get through this stretch of lengthy hours.

"It's a potpourri," said Joseph S. Molinaro, a father of four and an accountant with McLean, Koehler, Sparks and Hammond. "You do what you can do."

Janet Gross, a self-employed public accountant in Westminster, has used all three. Her 4-year-old son, Matthew, attends nursery school and day care during the day, and spends Saturdays with his grandmother or aunt.

During her evening appointments twice a week, Ms. Gross' husband, Derry, watches their son. Taking work home for a split shift -- stopping work at 5 p.m. and picking up at 8:30 p.m. when Matthew goes to bed -- covers the final three weekdays.

Sundays are reserved for family time, she said.

"Someone else might stay here and work through," Ms. Gross said. "I'm very lucky. I have a very supportive family."

Spouses with flexible work schedules also make child care arrangements easier.

Mr. Molinaro's wife, Mary, operates a computer business at home, and Ms. Gross' husband has a home-improvement business. McLean accountant Mark S. Zinnamosca said his wife, Debbie, is a hair stylist and usually works when he is home.

"We have a lot of flexibility there," said Ms. Gross. "When you own your own business, you can say you'll only make appointments on Tuesday and Thursday nights."

Mr. Molinaro and Mr. Zinnamosca conceded that child care responsibilities usually fall on their wives.

"It's harder on the mom than the dad," Mr. Molinaro said. "It becomes, 'I have to go to work, you have to figure it out.' It's unfair, but that's how it happens.

"I totally rely on my wife to tell me where the kids are."

Ms. Gross agreed, adding that most women she knows stopped practicing public accounting when their first child was born.

"I don't think a lot of women stay in public accounting," she said. "A lot of women, when they start having a family, leave and go into private accounting or become account managers for companies. I think the hours have a lot to do with it."

zTC The importance of having someone at home to watch the children motivated many of their family's career decisions, they said.

"Someone has to have a routine schedule," Ms. Gross said.

Ms. Zinnamosca stopped working full time and took a job closer to home to care for their 3-year-old daughter.

"We had to weigh the importance of her being home and making more money," he said. "We decided it was much more important for her to be at home."

Yet the accountants said their child care concerns and problems finding caretakers were no different from anyone else's, just more urgent at this time of year.

"We're in the same boat as any other two-wage-earner family," Mr. Molinaro said.

"You need to find someone you can feel comfortable with, so you can go to work and concentrate for eight hours a day," he said.

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